The earliest records of Martial Arts practice in Korea date back to about 50 B.C. These earliest forms of korean martial arts are known as 'Tae Kyon'. Evidence that Martial Arts were being practiced at that time can be found in tombs where wall-paintings show two men in fighting-stance. Others reject this evidence and say that these men could be simply dancing. Thus, the exact beginning of the practice of martial arts in Korea is still debated, but most believe that Chinese monks introduced the martial arts into the northern provinces of Korea during the fourth century.
Taegukki, the Korean national flag, is very philosophical in meaning. The flag symbolizes peace, unity, creation, brightness, and infinity. The origin comes from the oriental philosophy, called Yin-Yang in Chinese and Eum-Yan in Korean, and summarizes the thought of I Ching (Yeok in Korean).
Depicted in the center of the flag is the Taegeuk, a circle divided equally and locked in perfect balance. The upper red section is the Yan, and the lower blue section is the Eum. The two opposites express the dualism of the universe, good and evil, night and day, hot and cold, male and female, dark and light, being and not being, and so on.
The Korean Tae Kwon Do Association began as the Korean Taekwondo Union which arose from the Soo Bakh Do Association and the Tae Soo Do Association, in 1961. In 1962, the Korean Amateur Sports Association acknowledged the Korean Tae Kwon Do Union and the name was changed to the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association (KTA) in 1965.
The International Tae Kwon Do Federation was founded by General Choi Hong-hi. Before this time, General Choi was the president of the Korean Taekwondo Association, which had asked him to start the ITF as the international branch of the KTA But, a goodwill trip to North Korea in 1966 caused General Choi to fall in disgrace in the eyes of the South Koreans and he resigned as president of the KTA. He left for America and did start the ITF but as a separate entity.
The ITF focuses on the traditional aspects of Tae Kwon Do and practices hyungs or patterns developed by General Choi.